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Growing up, Paul Embree always loved camping and the outdoors. Over time, he amassed a large collection of camping gear that his friends always wanted to borrow. He noticed that there wasn’t an option for people interested in camping who couldn’t spend the hundreds of dollars it costs to purchase camping equipment, so he opened Backyards and Beyond.
Backyards and Beyond is an equipment rental business that specializes in all things camping. They offer a large selection of items, from tents and outdoor movie theaters to lawn games like badminton, ladderball, and washers. Embree’s favorite pieces of equipment are the outdoor movie theater and bedding because it adds a different aspect to the camping experience and helps provide a comfortable night’s sleep.
Now, Backyards and Beyond is looking to partner with local restaurants and caterers to offer customers a full-service backyard camping experience. “We’re trying to keep as much of it as we can local,” Embree says. “Columbia has so much to offer, there’s so much talent with amazing people and amazing products here in town.”
Four years ago, Aaron Banks decided to make a career change. He has always enjoyed discovering and tasting new craft beers, so he decided to make it his full-time job and launch Growlers & Pints in Columbia.
Growlers & Pints is Columbia’s first dedicated growler filling station. For beer drinking novices: a growler is a container used to take draft beer with you wherever you go. Many beer drinkers think draft beer is best because of its freshness; growlers allow beer drinkers to enjoy that fresh beer wherever they want.
At Growlers & Pints, the taps are constantly changing so that they can offer new beers to customers every time they come in. Banks believes that even experienced craft beer drinkers will find new taps that they’ll be surprised with at his tasting station. “I love introducing people who are necessarily craft beer fans to new beers,” Banks says. “Beer comes in lots of different styles and lots of different flavors. I can help them find something that they like.”
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Kim and Olivia Harrison are very familiar with the struggles of farmers — busy people who sometimes don’t have the tools or time to grow, market, distribute, and expand. To help their fellow farmers, Kim and Olivia founded 2BuyAg, a national digital marketplace for farmers and consumers that makes selling and buying local food easy.
2BuyAg wants engagement on a daily basis, allowing consumers to know what’s available and farmers to know what buyers are looking for. “We are location independent,” Kim says. “We’re the highway. We facilitate the discovery, messaging, transaction, and delivery.”
It’s a 2-way market that targets both the suppliers and the buyers, the farmer and the consumer. For farmers, it expands the market in an easy way and allows for greater sustainability. It gives them flexibility on what they’re willing to produce as well as the price points they can offer. For consumers, it gives them information about where their food is coming from and how it was raised and produced. 2BuyAg helps foster the buyer-seller relationship.